The Seattle Public Library's Quick Information Center turns 30
How many euros are in a dollar? What are the rules of Wiffle Ball? When are low tides on Seattle beaches in July? Do I address a woman I don't know as Ms., Miss, or Mrs.?
The Seattle Public Library's Quick Information Center (QIC) has answered these questions and millions more since the Library launched the service in 1976. QIC will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Wednesday, April 12.
In addition to taking calls at (206) 386-4636, QIC librarians and support staff answer questions by email and online chat from the Library's Web site at www.spl.org (select "Ask a Librarian"). Email and online chat service are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
"I think more challenging questions are being asked and answered through QIC these days, largely because patrons can find answers independently to their simple questions on the Internet," said Craig Kyte, who has managed QIC since 1991.
QIC welcomes all types of questions. Frequent topics include the following:
- reference and trivia questions
- directory look-ups across the nation
- local, state and federal government
- using Library services.
QIC staff members try to answer questions by telephone within 3 to 5 minutes. When questions require more research, calls may be directed to librarians with expertise in specific subjects.
"As the technology has changed, I've learned over and over again that there is no substitute for good customer service," said Kyte. "Patrons need to know that they are speaking with someone who is ready and able to help them."
Currently, the QIC team consists of eight librarians and six support staff. The center, which is located in the staff area on Level 5 of the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., has four incoming phone lines and a collection of computers dedicated to email and online chat service.
Telephone reference service is available during the following hours:
- 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday
- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday
- Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Jon Triesch has worked for the Library for 17 years, the last nine with QIC. "I talk to so many people who almost seem embarrassed that they have to ask us a question," said Triesch. "Like most people who work in libraries, I firmly believe that the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked."
For more information contact:
Andra Addison, communications director
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